An Interview With… Deadboy
31 Oct 2013
We caught up with London producer Deadboy ahead of his performance at Running Wild's Halloween Party...
London-native Deadboy is beginning to open up. After early years that revolved around anonymity in the Burial-sense of the word and killer, unrelenting R&B-sampling floor fillers, he’s moving further into more ambitious, more original material. Born Allen Wootton, the producer represents the city south of the river, displaying his SE4 postcode with pride across his wry social media platforms. And when RFB caught up with Wooton, his answers provided a similarly, refreshingly, frank and admonishing view into dance music’s current set of sub-cultures and how he views his own position within it.
You’ve described your cuts as ‘ecstasy records’ before. What gives them this quality?
I think all music attempts to translate an experience into sound and I think my earlier music particularly was most likely an attempt to translate my early experiences of clubs and ecstasy into music; I don't know specifically what it is but there’s some quality to the sound that I guess brings this to mind.
Are you happy for them to remain viewed in this context or do you find it restricting?
I’m happy for them to be viewed in this context, I think it goes back to an ancient need we have for a collective social ritual, drums, fire, lights, and transcendence from the mundane.
Do you think we’ve reached a point of over-saturation with the house/garage hybrid that arose circa 2010?
I think we most definitely did, though it seems to have been replaced by pretty straight ‘90s/deep house nowadays, ASOS house.
You were renowned for the use of R&B samples in your early work - what has made them so ubiquitous in the current dance scene?
Because it’s easy, because it adds something people can hook on to, if you're making a record you can go, "Who shall I get to sing on this, Mariah? Aaliyah?" or you can go find a session vocalist and get them to record something less good.
Do you think your tracks would still hold the same potency if they were stripped of their vocal snippets?
I'd like to say yes but I doubt it.
Do you think we are in danger of bastardizing classic R&B records with this relentless hounding of samples?
I think, as with anything, it’s not what you do it’s how you do it. If it sounds right then it probably is right, if it sounds like a Robin S B-side with Brandy on the top then it probably ain’t.
Your last release, Blaquewerk is far removed from your earlier poppy productions and reminded me of the Night Slugs Club Constructions series - is that something you cite as an influence?
Not consciously, I love what they do and the club constructions stuff but I didn't have that in mind when I was making it at all.
You’ve also mentioned Blackest Ever Black as a label that interests you - what do you take from artists like Regis and Raime and incorporate into your own productions?
I think that kind of deep black claustrophobic sound; kind of raw and unrelenting that washes over you is a mood I sometimes want from music. The rest of the time I want bumpy fun stuff but sometimes that’s what you want.
Do you prefer to use software or hardware when producing?
I use both, most of my sounds are hardware, analog, or samples from vinyl, recorded sounds etc but its all sequenced on computer. I use the odd VST but not loads.
Can you see yourself switching to a studio that is solely hardware-based at some point in the future?
I have thought many times about getting a tape machine and doing it all without computers but I think it wouldn't necessarily benefit the music I'm trying to make right now.
Your music carries strains of jungle - what do you make of producers like Tessela, Special Request and Lee Gamble breathing new life into the Amen break?
Yeah I'm into it, I mean there is an argument that those breaks have been done to death but look at the 808, again its not what you use its how you use it and they are all doing something individual and personal with it, it doesn't just sound like throwback ‘90s hardcore.
Why do you think that so many dance producers prefer to stick to two or three track releases as opposed to LPs? You were writing an album at one point but scrapped it...
I’m always writing and scrapping albums; I think with club-based dancefloor music it’s difficult to make an album that works. If I do an album it’s not going to be a collection of club tracks but at the moment I am happy making stuff intended for dancing. If you've got three good tracks its far better to put them on an EP than bury them in an album I think. But that’s just me I never sit down and listen to a "dance music" album.